A minute's silence will be observed before the kick off of the Boxing Day Challenge between Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley to remember those supporters who have passed away this year. Leeds Rhinos will also be remembering former players Bill Drake, Drew Turnbull, Fred Ward and Mick Shaw who have died in the last year along with staff members George Hickinson and Michael Crawford.
Fans will see three new rules tried out after the RFL Laws Committee put forward a series of recommended changes. Supporters on Boxing Day will be able to make their own decision on the suitability of each.
- if the ball is kicked dead from inside the kicker's own half, the opposition will restart with a 40-metre tap.
- The tackle count will also not be restarted if the ball is charged down.
- The feeding team at a scrum will have the option of packing down with five players or the standard six.
– Gary Hetherington, chief executive, Leeds Rhinos.
"I am especially looking forward to the scrum. It seems to be a lost art of scoring from the scrum but this experiment will test the creativity of coaches and players and it will be interesting to see the results."
Leeds will field three new faces and five members of their Grand Final-winning team on the new £1m Headingley pitch. The Rhinos are without the club's seven England internationals as well as a rested Jamie Peacock, but Leeds fans will have a chance to see new signings Joel Moon, Joe Vickery and Mitch Achurch in action for the first time. Moon and Achurch have joined the champions from Salford and Penrith Panthers respectively while fellow Australian Vickery is hoping to earn a contract during a three-month trial.
The Rhinos are without Stevie Ward and Richard Moore, who are still recovering from injury, but coach Brian McDermott includes hooker Paul McShane, who has returned from his loan spell at Widnes to line up alongside Grand Final winners Ben Jones-Bishop, Danny McGuire, Ryan Bailey, Ian Kirke and Darrell Griffin.
The traditional Boxing Day clash, postponed two years ago due to frost, is guaranteed to go ahead following the reintroduction of undersoil heating as part of a new playing surface.